One of the common statements often repeated in the media about COVID-19 is that it is seemingly random in terms of both getting the virus and having a poor outcome. But, upon further inspection, that’s not what the actual science is revealing. As we move deeper into our involvement with this virus some important patterns are emerging that make it quite clear that COVID-19 does indeed discriminate.
In a recent article, Dr. Austin Perlmutter explored how COVID-19 is actually an “opportunistic infection,” meaning that it takes advantage of patients whose immune systems are not functioning optimally. In the past we would have considered less than optimal immune function to be a characteristic of people who have had, for example, chemotherapy or radiation treatment, exposure to immune-suppressing medications after organ transplantation, or a diagnosed autoimmune disease. But as Dr. Austin Perlmutter has made clear, we now need to broaden our scope and embrace the notion that so many of our most common degenerative conditions, from diabetes to obesity, actually compromise immune function and allow the SARS-CoV-2 virus the opportunity to do its dirty work. Continue reading
One topic that’s certainly moved to center stage as of late is immunity. For obvious reasons there is great interest in exploring what we can do to enhance our immune functionality. The key idea, as it relates to functionality, is the notion of balance. While a robust immune system seems like it would be an ideal goal, we now know that excessive immune function may actually prove threatening. Such is the case with the so-called “cytokine storm.” Cytokines are chemical messengers that are involved in regulating immune function. When overproduced, as may occur in COVID-19 infection, cytokines can amplify inflammation with all its attendant destructive manifestations.
Regulation and balance of the immune system deteriorate with aging. So as we age we become more susceptible to inflammation, both acutely as with the cytokine storm, as well as chronically, in disease states like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, coronary heart disease, diabetes, and various other chronic degenerative conditions. Continue reading
By: The Dr. Perlmutter Team
One of the most exciting developments in lifestyle science over the last decade has been the sharpening focus on the central role that our resident microbes (bacteria) play in regulating overall health. These microbes, together with their genetic material and metabolic byproducts make up what is collectively known as the microbiome. It is becoming readily apparent that the trillions of microbes living on and within us play a fundamental role in almost all of the systems of the body. Even as recently as 10-20 years ago, we did not understand the extent to which the gut microbiome can influence a person’s mood, regulate appetite, produce essential vitamins, regulate the immune system, and influence systemic inflammation.
There is even evidence to suggest that the microbiome affects us on such a fundamental level that it can regulate the expression of our DNA! Continue reading
Alopecia areata is a form of baldness that affects approximately 2% of people in the United States. In this condition, hair is lost from various parts of the body, typically the scalp. The actual cause of this condition is unknown, but new research clearly supports the idea that this disease is an autoimmune condition, meaning it is a manifestation of a disruption of the regulation of the immune system. There is certainly thought to be a genetic component as well.
Treatment for this condition is often unsuccessful, but includes medications designed to treat immune imbalance. This may include the use of steroids. Continue reading
It is very exciting to see the incredible increase in scientific research being released that relates gut issues to various health problems elsewhere in the body. The research that explores this relationship in terms of autoimmune conditions is particularly interesting, not just because it links gut-related problems to changes in immune balance, but in terms of how this new understanding might open the door for new treatments for these challenging conditions.
Who knew that our lifestyle choices play such an important role in balancing the immune system?
On today’s program, I chat with Dr. Susan Blum, founder of the HealMyGut program and author of the wonderful book The Immune System Recovery Plan, which really zeroes in on this critical concept, to understand how the choices you make can dictate your immune health.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) has been diagnosed in more than 400,000 Americans, with about 200 new cases identified each week.
The overwhelming approach in addressing MS is centered on drugs designed to alter the course of the disease once it has manifested. Fortunately, leading edge researchers around the globe are exploring other approaches, including modifiable lifestyle factors, that may be leveraged in a situation like MS, in which the immune system has became out of balance.
In this video blog, I review a study published by German researchers in which they manipulated the fatty acid availability in laboratory animals while they assessed various markers of immune regulation.
What these researchers discovered is that when short chain fatty acids were enhanced in the laboratory animal model of human MS, the immune markers that are typically out of balance were brought under control. When long chain fatty acids were accentuated, the immune markers worsened.
We make short chain fatty acids when our gut bacteria are provided fuel in the form of prebiotic fiber. So the take home message is that this research would indicate that it may be reasonable for MS patients to consider increasing their consumption of prebiotic foods as a method of achieving immune balance.